Caro, Ina. Paris to the Past: Traveling Through French History by Train. Norton. Jun. 2011. 416p. ISBN 9780393078947. $27.95.
Travel books are ever popular, but here’s one with a real twist. Caro escorts us on 25 one-day train trips that leave from Paris and take us deep into France’s past. A trip to Orléans, for instance, helps us relive the story of Joan of Arc. I can’t help it; this just sounds so intriguing. From the author of the best-selling The Road from the Past: Traveling Through History in France.

Coulter, Ann. Untitled. Crown Forum. Jun. 2011. 304p. ISBN 9780307353481. $28.99. eISBN 9780307885364. CD: Random Audio.
Post-election, Coulter weighs in with her views of politics in America today and is bound to stir controversy. All seven of her books have been New York Times best sellers and no doubt this one will be, too.

ElBaradei, Mohamed. The Age of Deception: Nuclear Diplomacy in Treacherous Times. Metropolitan: Holt. Jun. 2011. 256p. ISBN 9780805093506. $27.
Director general of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency and with it winner of the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize, Egyptian lawyer ElBaradei here details his efforts to counter nuclear proliferation. We see him on weapons inspection tours of Iraq, chatting with Condoleezza Rice, and tracking Pakistani weapons, all the while insisting that this is not an East-West, we-have-nuclear-weapons-and-you-don’t divide but a matter of using ongoing diplomacy to assure world peace. Important reading; numerous foreign rights sales.

Grant, Colin. The Natural Mystics: Marley, Tosh, and Wailer. Norton. Jun. 2011. 320p. ISBN 9780393081176. $26.95.
Bob Marley, Peter (Mcin)Tosh, and Bunny (Livingston) Wailer rose from the Kingston slums to become the core of the Wailers, one of the most significant music groups of all time and springboard for the phenomenal Bob Marley & the Wailers. Jamaican-born Grant, who now works for the BBC, recounts the group’s history and argues that these musicians represent three different paths available to black men in the late 20th century: accommodate and succeed (Marley), fight and die (Tosh), or retreat and live (Wailer). Considering Marley’s enduring reputation, there will be interest, as long as the blend of music and sociological speculation rings true.

Kaiser, Daniel. How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival. Norton. Jun. 2011. 382p. ISBN 9780393076363. $26.95.
With physics severely underfunded in the 1970s, a bunch of restless young physicists at Berkeley decided to ignore the rules and explore their discipline in a freewheeling fashion, e.g., they studied Eastern mysticism along with quantum mechanics and took LSD while performing experiments. The result? They shook up the study of physics and paved the way for today’s advances. Physics sells surprisingly well, and this story includes elements that will interest the science-challenged, so it could grab attention. Kaiser is an associate professor at MIT.

Laurie, Piper. Learning To Live Out Loud. Crown Archetype. Jun. 2011. 320p. ISBN 9780823026685. $24.99. eISBN 9780823026777.
Laurie has won an Emmy and a Golden Globe Award and has been thrice nominated for an Oscar‚ and she’s not done yet. She’ll soon appear in the film Hesher with Natalie Portman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and is directing a one-man play based on Zero Mostel’s life. And she’s written a memoir, which traces her life from shy child to tough-willed actress who rebelled against the studio system. Lots of cameos and fun for all.

Lewis, Michael. Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World. Norton. Jun. 2011. 224p. ISBN 9780393081817. $26.95.
The cheap credit available from 2002 to 2008 radically transformed societies worldwide, with Icelanders tossing aside their fishing gear to become bankers, for instance, and the Irish tossing aside everything that defined them as Irish. Then the crunch came, and many of these societies are stumbling about as part of the new Third World. As a greedy debtor nation, we’re not so far behind. Lewis’s books are always excellent and always best sellers, so this should be at the top of your list.

Littlefield, Bruce. The Bedtime Story for Dogs. Grand Central. Jun. 2011. 32p. ISBN 9780466575911. $15.99.
A daring dog decides that he can’t wait for his busy human to take him out and ventures to the park himself. But it’s just not as much fun without his good buddy. Best-selling author and lifestyle expert Littlefield, frequently seen on the Today show and the Early Show, has crafted a fable aimed at readers of all ages. Remember, four in ten U.S. households have dogs (and we love them), and studies show that when they read to dogs, children’s reading levels leaps by 30 percent. You could invite parents, kids, and their dogs to the library for a Bedtime book club fest.

My Pick
Ozma, Alice. The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared. Grand Central. May 2011. 288p. ISBN 9780446583770. $24.99.
When Ozma was in fourth grade, her dad, school librarian Jim Brozina, agreed to read aloud to her for 100 consecutive nights. It was just the two of them, since Ozma’s older sister had left for college and her mom had left, period. They liked this bonding experience so much that they continued it until Ozma left for college, embracing everything from Shakespeare to Harry Potter to all 14 of Frank L. Baum’s originalOz books‚ many of which feature the powerful Princess Ozma, clearly the author’s namesake; her full name is Kristen Alice Ozma Brozina. The Streak, as they call it, lasted 3,218 nights, with Ozma sometimes dropping home at 11:30 p.m. when she was out with friends or Brozina rushing off to read to her at her community theater rehearsals. When Ozma wrote about the Streak for her graduate school application essay (she made the University of Pennsylvania), an enchanted official at her undergraduate school contacted the New York Times. The subsequent story led to an outpouring of media requests, but Ozma decided to hold off until publication of this book, in which she pitches the importance of the reading experience. Clearly fabulous for libraries everywhere.

Reynolds, David S. Mightier Than the Sword: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Battle for America. Norton. Jun. 2011. 352p. ISBN 9780393081329. $27.95.
Distinguished Professor of English and American Studies at CUNY and author of numerous works on American history, including the award-winning Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson, Reynolds would seem to be exactly the right person to explain the cultural roots, immediate consequences, and lasting impact of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Likely a big one.

Sciolino, Elaine. La Seduction: How the French Play the Game of Life. Times Bks: Holt. Jun. 2011. 384p. ISBN 9780805091151. $26.
For the French, says Sciolino, seduction isn’t simply a matter of romantic intrigue; it’s a way of life that shapes business, politics, style, personal relationships, and more. As the longtime Paris bureau chief of The New York Times, Sciolino should know. Here she helps us understand the quality that really defines France. For the French-struck and escapists, this could be a quite a diversion.

Shermer, Michael. The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies‚ How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths. Times Bks: Holt. Jun. 2011. 400p. ISBN 9780805091250. $28.
We build our beliefs on a solid foundation of evidence, right? Wrong, says Shermer, founder of Skeptic magazine and the author of popular books like The Science of Good and Evil. First comes belief, then the explanations, as the brain looks for patterns among sensory data and then looks for confirmation of those patterns. And that’s where science comes in: it allows us to measure our beliefs against reality. Persuasive, but will the people who need to listen really do so?

Shipman, Pat. The Animal Connection: A New Perspective on What Makes Us Human. Norton. Jun. 2011. 304p. ISBN 9780393070545. $26.95.
From an evolutionary viewpoint, our taking in animals might seem strange; they eat food we might otherwise eat ourselves. But as anthropologist Shipman explains, learning to coexist with and indeed care for other animals has given humans a distinct adaptive advantage. Shipman’s books all get high marks from LJ reviewers, and this one would seem to carry the discussion of the human-animal bond one step further.

Tofield, Simon. Simon’s Cat: Beyond the Fence. Grand Central. Jun. 2011. 240p. ISBN 9780446560078. pap. $13.99.
The seven short animations featuring Simon’s cartoon cat have received over 80 million hits on YouTube, and the book Simon’s Cat is approaching 35,000 copies in sales. In his second outing, our bubble-eyed feline friend decides to find out what lies beyond the fence. Obviously the cat’s meow for a host of YouTubers and another chance for nontech feline lovers to meet Simon’s cute puddy.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.